Tags: Britain | US | Flash Crash | Stock Market

UK Trader Accused in 'Flash Crash' Contests US Extradition

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 08:41 AM

A British trader accused by U.S. authorities of an illegal role in the May 2010 Wall Street "flash crash" was granted bail by a London court on Wednesday after saying he opposed being extradited to the United States to face trial.

The flash crash saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge more than 1,000 points in a day, briefly wiping out nearly $1 trillion in market value before partially recovering later.

The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it had criminally charged Navinder Singh Sarao, 36, with wire fraud, commodities fraud and market manipulation.

The case marks the first time U.S. regulators have alleged that illegal activities played a role in the crash.

Making his first appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Sarao was granted bail under stringent conditions. He is required to post 5 million pounds ($7.5 million) himself while his closest relatives must produce a further 50,000 pounds.

In addition, Sarao will have to wear an electronic tag, comply with a night-time curfew at his home in Hounslow, west London, carry a mobile phone at all times to answer calls from police and report to Hounslow police station three times a week.

Sarao will have no access to the Internet for any purpose. His passport and those of both his parents will be taken away and kept by police, and Sarao is not allowed to leave England or Wales for any purpose.

"I suspect the last 24 hours have been somewhat dramatic for you," District Judge Quentin Purdy told Sarao at the end of the hearing. "But you now know the U.S. seeks your extradition on very serious charges."

Sarao was warned he would face a fine or prison if he breached his bail conditions.

His lawyer declined to answer questions from reporters about his response to the U.S. allegations.

The next court hearing in the case is scheduled for May 26, with a full extradition hearing to follow on Aug. 18 and 19.


Wearing a yellow sweatshirt and white tracksuit bottoms, Sarao spoke quietly to confirm his name, address and date of birth. He appeared calm as he sat in the dock a few seats away from a security guard.

"This has come as a bolt from the blue for Mr. Sarao," his lawyer Joel Smith told the court.

The court heard that Sarao had 100,000 pounds in various betting accounts and another 5 million in a personal trading account of which 4.7 million pounds was a loan.

U.S. authorities accuse him of personally profiting from his alleged wrongdoing by $40 million, or 26 million pounds.

The family's neighbors in Hounslow said they had never seen any outward sign of unusual wealth, and the court hearing did not shed any light on the existence or whereabouts of such a large amount.

Aaron Watkins, representing the U.S. judicial authorities at the London hearing, said that side of the investigation was "being actively followed up."

Sarao was arrested at the home he shares with his parents, a modest suburban house under the flight path of nearby Heathrow airport.

Smith told the court Sarao was born and raised in Britain and had attended Brunel University in London. He had worked for banks before becoming an independent trader.

U.S. authorities accuse Sarao of using an automated program to "spoof" markets by generating large sell orders that pushed down prices. He then canceled those trades and bought the contracts at the lower prices to benefit when the market recovered, U.S. authorities said.

Watkins told the court Sarao had worked as a trader from his home operating primarily through a company he set up trading futures using commercially available software. This allowed traders to communicate with markets and place multiple orders almost simultaneously.

"On numerous occasions ... Mr. Sarao is alleged to have spoofed the market," he said.
Watkins also said that Sarao had been asked to stop by U.S. authorities but continued to do so, knowing it was wrong.

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

A U.K. trader is contesting extradition to the United States to face charges of being a key figure in bringing about the 2010 "flash crash" — when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 600 points in five minutes.
Britain, US, Flash Crash, Stock Market
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 08:41 AM
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